COLOMBIA, Alida Becerra •
The Schoenstatt youth in Bogotá attended the meeting with Pope Francis in Bolivar Square. They were among 22.000 youth who had gathered from 4 in the morning to welcome the Pope.
Working with the impulses of the Colombian Church
The youth prepared themselves for the meeting with the Holy Father with Sr. María Amparo Villouta and the leaders of the youth Laura Téllez, Fanny Bravo, Consuelo Iturrieta and Andrea Sánchez. Over three Saturdays, they met at “Mater House” in Bogotá where they learnt more about Pope Francis, the pontificate, the mission of the youth within the Church and the kind of Church that they dream of building.
They also studied the kerygma, that is, the proclamation of the Good News of Jesus Christ, and learnt about Christian hope as a seed that should always be in the heart of the youth. The pedagogical texts published by the Bishops’ Conference of Colombia also helped in the preparation, especially in the following areas.
- Dare to be different
- Dare to create
- Dear to follow and proclaim Christ
- Dare to be a bearer of hope
- Dare to build community
- Dare to trust others
- Dare to forgive and encounter others
- Dare to be a peacemaker
- Dare to act with goodness
- Dare to be just in everything you do
The youth also made the following commitments:
- Pray every day for peace in the world and the rebuilding of Colombia.
- Share the advice that Pope Francis gives the youth today with friends and companions.
- Perform a work of mercy – material or spiritual – for someone near to us as Pope Francis teaches.
- Communicate with family, companions and friends the joy of having Christ in our lives. Share experiences.
- Offer a voice of hope, a smile, or a word of encouragement to someone who needs it.
- Share meals with our families and be attentive to what they ask us.
- Respect all people, also those who think differently or who we don’t like.
- Renew our commitment to follow Christ before the Blessed Sacrament.
What the Pope told them
Pope Francis said that it is always a joy to meet with the youth and he asked them to “keep joy alive,” because this is the sign of a young heart, a heart that has encountered the Lord.”
He told them: “young people have a particular ability of recognizing the suffering of others; volunteer workers around the world depend on thousands of you who give up your own time, your own comforts and plans, and allow yourselves to be moved by the needs of the most vulnerable, to whom you dedicate yourselves.”
The Pope referred to young people who have suffered the consequences of violence: “Allow the suffering of your Colombian brothers and sisters to strike you and mobilize you! Help us, your elders, not to grow accustomed to pain and neglect… Colombia needs you so much to put yourselves in the shoes of those who, many generations earlier, could not or did not know how to do so, or did not come up with the right way to reach understanding!”
Pope Francis also reminded them how easy it is for them to “meet,” because “All you need is a good coffee, a good drink or any other excuse to meet. The young agree on music, on art… Even a final between Atlético Nacional and América de Cali is an opportunity to be together!” joked the Pope.
Francis also recognized that the youth are capable of something very difficult in life: the gift of “forgiving.” He said, “you help us in the desire to leave behind what has hurt us, to look to the future without the burden of hatred; because you make us see the wider world which stands before us, the whole of Colombia that wishes to grow and continue its development; that Colombia which needs all of us, and which we older people owe to you.”
Maria Alejandra, one of the young people who attended, sent us this testimonial:
Waiting for Pope Francis, feeling how his words touched our hearts. It is easy to understand that for him, love comes from within himself. His words touched my heart. Forgetting the anxiety all around us and the agitated movement of the crowds. We did not become impatient while waiting for the message that the Pope brought to a country that yearned for his visit. I experienced his words like water on a morning of large queues and the hot Bogotá son. Clear and refreshing, this water that one does not tire of drinking. May our Pope Francis’ message never cease to refresh.
Original: Spanish, 23 September. Translation: Sarah-Leah Pimentel, Cape Town, South Africa